• Feelings of guilt

    Asked by lovinglife on Sunday, March 31, 2013

    Feelings of guilt

    I am a bc survivor of of almost three years and am so very grateful to be alive. I have found that I have tremendous feelings of guilt if I feel sad about anything else going on in my life. I feel that I don't have the right to be sad about anything since I have survived cancer and am still alive. Without going into detail that is very personal,I am feeling sad and upset about something major in my life. I won't even allow myself to cry,

    20 Answers from the Community

    20 answers
    • karen1956's Avatar

      You survived breat cancer....but that doesn't mean that you can't have other issues to deal with....please give yourself permission to feel....to feel happy, feel sad, feel angry, feel whatever you need to feel with what is going on in your life....

      over 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Gratitude and sadness are not exclusive emotions. I am the Director of Feline Care at a cat sanctuary. So far this year we have lost 6 cats for various reasons including lymphoma, feline leukemia and renal failure. I am sad and cry my eyes out every time we lose a cat to disease or age, but I am grateful every day for all of the cats that are still with us. I'm not trying to compare this to your situation, but just offer it as one of many examples of typical life situations where both sadness and gratitude are appropriate and natural and certainly nothing to feel guilty about.

      over 3 years ago
    • lchapman2000's Avatar

      It is amazing that you have beat breast cancer!!! You have a second chance at life. With that journey comes lots of ups and downs different experiences and emotions. All of these experiences, I believe, shape us into the person we are destined to be. However, you have to give yourself permission to live fully. No one expects you to be happy all the time. For everything there is a season. Crying is a healthy release of emotion. Please allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and live your life to the fullest. Live in the moment. That is why you were given a second chance. Please don't waste it feeling guilt. I don't think that is the purpose. Best of luck to you. Happy Easter!!

      over 3 years ago
    • rmh's Avatar

      dear loving life, your feelings are yours. When I woke up from my surgery the first question from the doctor was how do you feel? I said I 'sad'. He looked puzzled. Sadness can consume people. Talk about what you're going thru to a close confident, journal, scream in the tub. But do not feeling guilt. I often do something sweet for someone else when I feel sad like a get some cookies for the kids next door. No reason to feel guilty. I will say a prayer for you. You said it's 'major' who wouldn't be feeling what you are feeling. Go in the bathroom, run the water and cry.You will feel better getting those feelings out.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I have felt survivor's guilt as well, especially when a co worker's daughter died of leukemia at 17 years old. We started chemo at the same time and I lived and her daughter did not. But it was not my fault. I try not to dwell but sometimes we all get sad for any number of reasons. You have to let yourself feel, every emotion.

      I lost my remaining two family members in 2010, and founght and beat breast cancer by myself. Being happy and grateful for what I have doesn't mean I miss what I lost any less.

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I adore your screen name, it tells me that you are a strong proactive person. Feeling guilty is a natural reaction and completely normal, and it's ok to feel that way, but it's not ok for the feeling to take over your life. Having cancer does not shield us from other events and situations that cause stress, make us sad, etc. I sure wish it did.

      Cry, I find that crying is very therapeutic and emotionally cleansing.

      I am sending you hugs and healing vibes.

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear lovinglife,

      Hi. My name is Aliza. I'm a BC patient, and I'm also a retired Medical Librarian who helps out on this site offering advice (usually non medical), making referrals to doctors, hospital, agencies, etc. and doing research when asked. I'm different than the average BC patient in a couple of respects.
      I was diagnosed with BC Stage I last August, while I was in the midst of planning my Wedding (my fiancé and I are both 54 [it's a 2nd marriage for both of us]), so my Wedding which was going to be held in either November or Dec. {instead I had a very intimate Mastectomy in December}])...;) Oh well...My fiancé and I are still together and trying to figure out when we want to get married but back to that later. My tumor was tested after my mastectomy and run through an Oncotype Genetic test and I lucked out because it was found that I didn't need chemotherapy. I was so relieved...

      I'd originally had the option of having a lumpectomy but after careful consideration turned it down for 2 reasons. 1) I'm a Lupus patient and radiation (which almost always follows as a protocol) can cause flares for us Lupus folks and 2) The morbidity rate (not reoccurrence rate which was the same as for mastectomies) was a bit (3%) higher with a lumpectomy. Since there was a preponderance of people that had died from Cancer in my family, I didn't feel comfortable with even that small margin, so I opted for the mastectomy and didn't look back.

      Now, it's March 31st and when the calendar hits April 13th, I will be Cancer free for 4 months. Do I feel guilty? The answer is No, I don't. Do I have compassion for what other people on this site are going through? You bet!! Otherwise I wouldn't be spending my time here answering questions in my professional capacity. (Other people answer questions and throw in their own opinions, tell you to drink whatever naturopathic juice the Uncle Jack drank when he had whatever kind of Cancer at X stage, etc.). I can't do that. Being a Librarian, I'm bound by my professions' code of ethics not to give medical information, because it's well, unethical to start (I didn't attend Medical School) and more or less illegal (I can be sued if I give out information that turns out to be incorrect or harmful). So what can I do? See the first paragraph. That leaves room for lots!! Referrals and research cover a pretty wide range and if you're a well informed librarian who researches on her/his own, then that's a good thing. I'm also motivated because not only I, but my Dad, Grandfather, 5 great aunts and uncles, and one cousin died from Cancer. So I feel I want to do my part.

      Now you feel sad and guilty. I'm sorry to hear that. I understand. What I'd recommend to you is to contact the folks at CancerCare. They have Social Workers there who are specially trained to deal only with the very specific needs of Cancer patients and their caregivers. It's not like "regular therapy". They're great. I see a CancerCare Social Worker and she's terrific. I recently began seeing her, I'm sorry I didn't contact her when I was diagnosed back in August-I really could have used her help then, but it's never too late! I highly recommend them as there's probably nothing related to Cancer that they haven't heard.

      I also would suggest to you that you click on the purple box to the right of this on this that says something about "personalized resources" as that too may offer you a bunch of good support systems to help you get through this thorny time.

      It's easy for people to say "don't feel guilty". They don't want you to feel bad, but another idea is to do some volunteer work for one of the Cancer organizations - The ACS, Susan Komen, etc. I'm sure you get the idea. This way you'll feel more like you have a purpose to fulfill.

      I hope that some of my ideas were helpful. I have others too for things that are of a more recreational bent. Let me know if you're interested in those. I worked as a Public and School Librarian as well. Feel free to message me here or email me off the site.

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      To me, guilt is a wasted emotion--it gets you nowhere and is non productive. I go every month or so to a therapist, who helps me put my emotions in order. The others are right; if you feel you need to cry, do so. But I suggest if you feel guilty--take that unproductive, negative emotion

      over 3 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      OOOPS! Need to start over. I see a therapist whenever I feel the need and she helps me figure out what I am feeling. But to me, feelings of guilt don't help anyone; they are especially negative for us to hang on to. Instead, why not turn to others who are fighting this fight? To volunteer in a chemo room, knit chemo caps, bring in cookies, something of that nature. GUILT is just such a waste of energy! And BTW, I cried about every 20 minutes during chemo for a while. Then it would go away and I'd feel much relief. You might want to try both suggestions. Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar

      The best thing I could say is allow yourself to cry, and feel all your emotions. Just try and know what your boundaries are within those emotions. I have been told by many people that the cancer I had was the good kind, and I should feel lucky and not sad. When people told me that it made me feel guilty for having complications, or fears over what happened. My second surgery when they nicked major vessels that ran to the carotid artery, and put titanium clips in my neck. I felt guilty for even expressing fear from that because so many other cancer survivors told me it could be worse. I know guilt can creep itself in, and I won't tell you not to feel guilty because that is an emotion we can’t stop from feeling. However, I would say let the emotion come in recognize it and then evaluate it. IF it is an emotion you see has place in your life keep it around. IF it is an emotion that has not a place or purpose for you try and seek help, or use tools you’ve acquired through your journey to guide that feeling away from you. I believe you should recognize each feeling and give it a place. The choice of where you place them is up to you. I wish you peace and absurdity of mind during this time of concern.

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      One thing I learned about the "World of Cancer" is that it is full of emotions -- fear, anger, despair, sadness -- then there is hope and appreciation. These emotions are just begging to be released and we definitely need to release them so as to re-energize and move forward. You definitely have the right to be sad and upset -- especially when it is a major event in your life. You need to deal with this sadness -- you need to cry -- to verbalize and to empty all those feelings. Yes, you survived cancer and you are still alive -- so you are a strong person but you are also human. Let yourself mourn, grieve, rant, cry and be counseled. After all, that is what normal human beings do under the same circumstances -- and you are normal. Don't ever feel guilty about the precious gift of healing that God has blessed you with. He loves you and you are his precious child so He would want you to embrace this healing... I wish you the very best.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      It is understandable, sometimes bc survivors are "heroes" to others. You should be proud that you fought through it, but I know that feeling. It is that you didn't ask for this, but you got it, and now you don't feel like a hero, but others are in awe. I felt this too and realize that my purpose must not be fulfilled, I have things I need to do, and we have to maintain a different attitude. It is almost that you have rise above it all. What I find is that giving back to all of those who helped me, including local organizations, and I try to volunteer. Then, I feel like I'm contributing to others. Think of how scared you were when there was diagnosis and know all the knowledge you have that can help others who are scared right now. Also, keeping in touch with some of the folks you ran into during treatment or group therapy sessions, letting them know you are there for them as well helps. But, enjoy your life ...you are here for a purpose even if to make someone else smile every day. Thank you for expressing this, I think it hits home for many.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nellie's Avatar

      I have only been a survivor for 8 months and I know what you mean. I want to go to the relay for life where I live and walk with the survivors, but my cancer was not as bad as some and I have a hard time believing I am worthy of being called a survivor. You are not alone!!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • raven's Avatar

      You survived to live. As all of us know life is fraught with the negative as well as the positive. If you don't experience the downs, the highs become just the norm. Grab all of life!

      over 3 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      I have survivor's guilt as well. I know I went through some things but it also seems like not much compared to what some others have gone/are going through. I've walked the Relay for Life Survivor's Lap but I agree with Nellie - I'm not sure I'm worthy of being called a survivor. If I had a friend who went through the same thing I'd say "Of course you are a survivor!" but I always seem to be harder on myself. I have to work on remembering to talk to myself the way I talk to the people I care about - it's a lot nicer.

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Its admirable that you feel this way. It shows a deep compassion for others. But you deserve to feel compassion for yourself as well and you will honor those who didn't survive by living your life to the fullest, sad and happy as needed far more than if you hold yourself back. And a good cry is the best medicine.

      over 3 years ago
    • Kathy's Avatar

      This is a popular question - and you can tell because of so many responses. I'm a 2x survivor and its been 3 months since my last chemo. This last round I kept saying dear God please make me well - I will never complain again - I just want to live. Those are unrealistic expectations, aren't they? I do see a social worker and she tells me you can have two different feelings about the same thing. It doesn't have to be all one or the other. For example - my daughter is getting married soon and I waffle between being mad that this cancer has interfered with my energy to enjoy all the planning to thinking I should be greatful I'm even around. I feel guilty when the negative emotions surface. I have learned that its very important to stay rested. When I start badgering all that has come with the cancer I know I'm overtired. Thanks for asking this question. It has been a good one to follow. Take good care and try to go easy on yourself.

      over 3 years ago
    • Kathy's Avatar

      PS - in reading some of the other responses I also feel so many have had it so much worse then me! And it can seem like those people are the most positive - which can add to the guilt of all this.

      over 3 years ago
    • KimG's Avatar

      Congrats on being a survivor! Don't ever feel guilty about having emotions about other issues. That's life and it doesn't go away. Let yourself feel and heal. Do cry. If you feel you are crying or sad all the time a good antidepressant does miracles. My oncologist put me on Venlafaxafine, the generic of effexor xr. Believe me I've tried others and all they did was dull my thinking. My oncologist picked this one because it can be taken with the tamoxifen and it doesn't dull mu thinking at all. I was crying all the time for no reason and this has helped 100%. Talk to your onc. kimg09

      over 3 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar


      Thank you for reaching out to other WhatNexters and sharing your feelings of guilt. Questions about guilt are common on the site, especially survivor's guilt. We posted an article this week about ways to cope with feelings of guilt during or after cancer; perhaps you will find it helpful if you are still struggling with these feelings.


      Hope all is well,

      almost 3 years ago

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